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Commitment hard to match

Jayabharathy, the committed film-maker is ready with his next project, which he hopes will be noticed on the commercial and film festival circuit, as he tells MALATHI RANGARAJAN.

Jayabharathy explains a scene to Chandrashekar as Charlie watches... on the sets of "Nanba Nanba".

HOW WOULD you describe a person who has made just three films in a career spanning nearly as many decades because he can never make compromises on any score? Patient? Persevering? Committed? Impractical? Filmmaker Jayabharathy is all these and much more.

The spontaneous standing ovation from the audience, at the end of the recent screening of Jayabharathy's latest film, "Nanba Nanba" (Friend, Dear Friend), bore testimony to its creator's potential. (His first film was "Kudisai". "Uchchi Veyyil" came a little later.)

Joseph (Charlie) and Lawrence (Chandrasekhar) share a unique bond. Having grown up together in the same orphanage the two are great friends. Life looks bright and rosy... till disaster strikes. A gruesome accident confines Lawrence to the bed. He is now a paraplegic totally dependent on Joseph for everything. The story then moves on to a dramatic end, which unfolds many noble aspects of human nature.

``The story is my brother Ravindran Ramamurthy's. (The screenplay, dialogue and direction are by Jayabharathy). He is no more ", says Jayabharathy.

The range of Charlie's performance, the excellent shades of emotion that he displays in "Nanba .." and the wonderful body language, are superb. Surely "Nanba Nanba" must have been a gratifying experience for this extremely talented actor, whose roles in other films have mostly been negligible exercises in histrionics.

Chandrashekar is not far behind. The agony and anguish of an active man, bedridden for life, has been essayed with empathy by him.

Shot in 16 mm and then made 35 mm, "Nanba Nanba" has been made on a shoestring budget.

``NFDC rejected the story, and for that they took four years'', Jayabharathy's sardonic smile makes his irritation evident. Naturally. The regional committee does the preliminary selection and then sends the story to Mumbai for final approval. But without citing any reason, the committee rejects it arbitrarily. "Then what respect does the regional committee's recommendation have,'' asks an exasperated Jayabharathy.

His next project is also awaiting NFDC's approval, but that does not deter him from speaking his mind. After NFDC's negative response, Jayabharathy wrote to about 100 people feverishly ("I posted 75 letters in just one day") asking each one to give him Rs. 5,000 to go ahead with "Nanba Nanba". One such approval came to the notice of Raja Vaidyanathan, whose Dream Works offered to produce the film. ``Charlie and Chandrasekhar did not take any money. Ramesh Prasad (of Prasad Studios) helped us use their equipment free of cost...'' says a thankful Jayabharathy.

Now the film is being sent to Delhi, for selection for screening at the International Film Festival that is to come up soon.

It is not as though ``Nanba...'' is a film extraordinaire. But its laudable features are many. With a straight, unswerving screenplay sans frills, the film presents the better side of human nature with commendable realism and sensitivity.

How does Jayabharathy react to today's crass commercialism in cinema? ``Nauseating,'' is his succinct reply.

He has already begun to work on his next project involving the Indo-Pak. standoff and the U.S. role in it.

"There would be more of symbolism in it. So it is doubtful how much of it will be comprehended by the layman. But we are planning a regular screening of ``Nanba..." he says.

After a decade in hibernation, Jayabharathy has come up with an appreciable project. Film festivals could lap it up and critics may shower accolades.

But it should reach the masses so steeped in the inane fare churned out everyday in the name of entertainment.

But will it?

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